One Invasion Won't Be Enough- A recent report in the British press on the US invasion of Iraq said something which is interesting, if true, that planners think only 100,000 troops would be needed. That is an occupation force, not a conquest force. The article also said that the attack is presently planned for the spring of 2003, which is both unbelievable and directly contradicted by the 100,000 troop figure. The latter's implications are (assuming the report is accurate about Pentagon planning):
1) We don't think we'll have to fight. I.e., the national command authority expects Saddam Hussein will be dead when we go in and that our troops in Kuwait will enter Iraq unopposed. This might happen through assassination. Anecdotal evidence in Mark Bowden's article in the current Atlantic Monthly indicates that Saddam's security forces have lost respect for him and are rather cynical about him. Another, darker, possibility is that we expect we or Israel will nuke Iraq into surrender. The latter scenario would require Saddam to launch some SCUD's with chemical warheads at Israel or our forces in Kuwait. I do not see any plausible scenario in which we or Israel would nuke Iraq without Saddam first using weapons of mass destruction.
2) We won't need six months of mobilization to get 100,000 troops and all their supporting stocks, principally aircraft fuel, to the Kuwait area. We could probably do that in 3-4 months.
3) And if we don't plan on forcible conquest, we won't need wartime stocks and could deploy 100,000 occupation duty troops to the Kuwait area in perhaps as little as 45-60 days.
There are astronomical implications to American occupation of Iraq. The intelligence haul will be incredible just from documents and computer files, plus we'll scoop up a lot of people who will tell us everything rather than be put out on the street wearing "I Luv Saddam" t-shirts. Embarrassing information in Iraqi files might be among the reasons certain governments are so opposed to our attacking Iraq.
A lot of the rats will scurry into Syria, though, so it is # 1 or # 2 on our "next" list for that and weapons of mass destruction reasons. The current most likely cause of significant use of those is Hezbollah (Lebanese Shiite group) possession of several hundred primitive nerve gas warheads for their several thousand Katuysha-type artillery rockets aimed at cities in northern Israel. Such an attack would result in a certain mass Israeli nuclear weapons city-busting strike on its present and potential enemies. This would not be in America's interest so defanging Hezbollah has to be high on our priority list. Which means goodbye Syria as it is one of Hezbollah's two major state patrons.
The other is Iran, but I expect the firmly pro-American people of Iran will overthrow their theocratic kleptocracy immediately after we occupy Iraq. Iran's leading mullahs know their regime is threatened and have purportedly decided to "drink poison" a la the late Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 cease-fire with Iraq, and kiss up to the Great Satan in an attempt to remain in power. It is increasingly unlikely that the U.S. will have to do anything more than occupy and/or conquer Iraq to bring about a regime change in Iran.
These events would be immediately followed by an epidemic of bed wetting on the south side of the Persian Gulf. Once we've secured the oil production of Iraq (which necessarily means our control of Kuwait's) and obtained a friendly regime in Iran, the continued existence of the Saud regime will no longer be in America's interest. The Saud regime is the dominant source of funding for terrorism, especially terrorism against the United States. I expect loss of Saudi funding will cause Islamic terrorism outside Arab areas and Pakistan to tube, and that in Arab areas will be significantly reduced.
The Saudi regime has major problems at home such that we might not be able to keep them in power much longer even if we wanted to (its domestic problems are what drives its funding of terrorism), and it certainly can't stay in power if the U.S. government attempts to bring it down through overt (blockade) or covert means. But as with Iran, we might not have to do anything to terminate the Saud regime.
American-fostered regime changes in Iraq and Iran, alone, could easily cause shaky Saudi domestic politics to spiral out of control, bringing down the monarchy and replacing it with something more radical and anti-American, though there are also liberal and democratic factions. Revolution in Saudi Arabia or its invasion, with an invitation or without one, would likely see a lot of its oil infrastructure destroyed (it purportedly has long been wired for explosives and quick destruction). Then, after the world has done without Saudi oil for a while, the oil fields (which comprise only a small part of Arabian real estate) would be rebuilt and revived under U.S. government control.
At which point we'll also know which other oil-producing countries are still funding terrorism (the likely suspects are Libya, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates). This is pretty scary stuff, but once we invade Iraq there is a major possibility of snowball effects, which include incentives to continue invading. Hopefully the Bush administration has a desired end state in mind. And things could start rolling this summer - Tom Holsinger